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Impeachment, Explained

By Saxon Haney




The United States Senate acquitted President Trump last Wednesday, February 4, on two impeachment charges. The Senate cast votes on the two articles, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and except for one, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the votes were cast on party lines. On Friday, President Trump removed two of the key witnesses during the House of Representatives' investigation, United States Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman from the positions they held during the President's July 25 call with Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the source incident of the impeachment trial.


As described in The Pacific Legal Foundation, “Impeachment is a formal charge of wrongdoing, not a conviction of that wrongdoing. For example, if you’re charged with shoplifting, you’re not automatically guilty of shoplifting. You are entitled to a trial. Impeachment proceedings work the same way: An impeachment does not mean a president is immediately removed from office; it is simply the formal process for charging a president for possible official wrongdoing. If convicted, they are then removed from office (and, in theory, can then face separate criminal charges if warranted).”


Meanwhile, many news outlets opined their disdain for the Senate's acquittal. The Los Angeles Times described a bleak future as a result of the President's exoneration. "By voting for acquittal, the Senate not only gave a congressional seal of approval to the president’s “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but also may have emboldened a victorious Trump to offend against the Constitution again." The New York Times offered this allegation headline, "In Private, Republicans Admit They Acquitted Trump Out of Fear."


The Associated Press provided this straightforward report in describing the acquittal. "The outcome Wednesday followed months of remarkable impeachment proceedings, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House to Mitch McConnell’s Senate, reflecting the nation’s unrelenting partisan divide three years into the Trump presidency. What started as Trump’s request for Ukraine to “do us a favor” spun into a far-reaching, 28,000-page report compiled by House investigators accusing an American president of engaging in shadow diplomacy that threatened U.S. foreign relations for personal, political gain as he pressured the ally to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the next election." The article then delivered this key fact: The Senate has never voted to remove a President from office.


Time Magazine provided an excellent preview of what's to come now that impeachment is over. "By the conclusion of the trial, there was only one thing on which weary lawmakers from both parties could agree: this impeachment has heralded a dangerous new hyper-partisan era that could damage the workings of government for a generation. Republicans said an impeachment process that was initiated and played out almost entirely along party lines was a disturbing use of a grave constitutional duty as a political weapon in an election year. Democrats said that Republican lawmakers had shirked their constitutional duties in their politically expedient support for Trump, even after multiple government officials testified that the President abused the authority of his office." Time went on to predict what's to follow: President Trump shifted his energy back to his re-election campaign, it seemed the most indelible outcome of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history might be the further deepening of political divisions in government and across the country. On Tuesday, Gallup released a new poll showing that during impeachment, Trump reached his highest ever job approval rating, at 49%.


Sources: Snowball, Timothy. “Impeachment Explained: A Constitutional Primer and History.” Pacific Legal Foundation, Pacific Legal Foundation, 9 Dec. 2019, pacificlegal.org/impeachment-explained-a-constitutional-primer-and-history/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAm4TyBRDgARIsAOU75soDYZTkGT_kU_t0NOeoDQZxOmUv7dOZ3Xzg4SHlTgZ_p8tOY7fy2PYaAo2DEALw_wcB.

Berenson, Tessa. “Why the Impeachment Fight Is About More Than Donald Trump.” Time, Time, 30 Jan. 2020, time.com/5774488/impeachment-donald-trump-presidency-power/

Jones, Jeffrey M. “Trump Job Approval at Personal Best 49%.” Gallup.com, Gallup, 7 Feb. 2020, news.gallup.com/poll/284156/trump-job-approval-personal-best.aspx?utm_source=twitterbutton&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=sharing

Works Cited

Balsamo, Michael. “Memo: Trump Prodded Ukraine Leader to Investigate Bidens.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 25 Sept. 2019, apnews.com/273e46e2fa324eb9ba5d69ab2a2c69cb

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